Remember how I mentioned last week that we might see a lot more interpersonal exploration thanks to the ramifications of Alison’s return? That Pretty Little Liars could feasibly spend a good half-season or more of this plodding character work as we unpack the aftermath of Season 4 and still have a few more filler episodes? Well, that’s over.
While Marlene King has been saying in every Q&A and interview that Episode 100 might be one of her favorite episodes of the series, we can now see that her sentiment is about more than just her show hitting that golden syndication number. We should go back and check to see whether this installment was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble, because man, the SUDS on this show. And where there are suds, there is action. So long, still-life episodes.
Where do we even start? How about with all that sweet love that was made?
Almost every important ‘shipper name that PLL has to offer got a little action in some respect. #Spoby is nothing special since Toby hasn’t completely violated Spencer’s trust in awhile (when was Toby part of A in Rosewood time—has it only been a few months?) and it never occurred to Spencer to sell herself to Andrew for a few magic study pills. They got together in the cab of his truck, and compared to all the other ‘shipper couple appearances, their activities were downright pedestrian. I mean, sacred ground was being consecrated, after all.
The groanworthy yet inevitable return of #Ezria held out for as long as it possibly could. After her meltdown last season upon finding out that Ezra was the finkiest fink who ever finked, we might’ve hoped for more from Aria, that it was time for her to grow as a person. With a season opener that involved Aria doing something traumatic and a few subsequent episodes dealing with her remorse, it's felt even more like we were going to get a version of the character who that wasn’t defined by the man she was with. But that spectre of Fitz always lurked about, always haunted her. Disappointing as it is that she caved so soon (it’s only been a few weeks since she found out about Ezra’s scheme to sell her life as a book), the show did a good job of establishing the pair's premise in this episode: No matter what happens between these two, they will always, at the very least, habitually have boundary issues.
From her fingers brushing his cheek to his wiping pie from her mouth and then licking it off his thumb, their relationship is still too fresh for them to not engage in boyfriend/girlfriend behavior. Though I think the pie thing might be mom behavior and, therefore, a little creepy. Par for the course. Anyhow, there were a lot of mitigating factors that caused Aria to forget what Ezra did and to forgive with her burning loins: her guilt, a case of PTSD, the chaos of Alison returning, her parents and brother magically disappearing, dem abs with a scar (and, so I hear, chicks dig scars), and the fact that Ezra has been the one stable thing in her life. Ever present, ever willing, ever inviting. And the cover of The Police’s stalker anthem “Every Breath You Take” as their lovemaking soundtrack was the perfect touch.
There was another couple working on their night moves to the sweet lyrics of Sting’s ode to lover’s surveillance, but we should talk quickly about #Haleb, as the moment Hanna left him in Rosewood was the beginning of a dramatic countdown to their reunion.
Poor, stupid Travis. I like the kid, but ever since Caleb boarded a bus to meet a soon-to-be ghost, you knew Travis was doomed. He was destined to be sucked in by Hanna's smoky eye makeup and gray-area ethics, if only so that he could eventually be a vertex in a romantic triangle opposite the mightiest cheekbones this side of Susquehanna. Oh, Travis. Your manners and blue-collar groundedness were always going to be put on trial and, unfortunately, you're at a 'shipping mash-up name disadvantage. Hanvis? Tranna? Trahannavis? Haleb is the clear winner here. But it’s going to be a slow burn as Caleb worms his way back into the regular cast and works his way toward a confrontation with Travis, when he'll mount his return (so to speak). Honestly, Travis, you’re probably better off surrendering on this one.
Even though we’ve been anticipating the restoration of #Haleb for quite some time, the #Emison feels like the biggest story because it informs so much. It’s a coupling I have trouble supporting since anyone getting together with Alison is the biggest mistake of your life, no contest. And it would be bad if Paige or Shana or whoever slipped under her thumb, but Emily is easy picking and hasn't done anything to hurt anyone, so it feels like Alison is punishing her through a drawn-out manipulation. I know that Emison has a ton of support on the internet, but to me, this feels like she’s taking aim at a mockingbird.
It all started with Alison’s Apology Tour, which we knew was coming but couldn’t discern whether it would be sincere or not. She won over a number of people already recruited to Mona’s Heroes just by walking into school. But it was all downhill from there. Her talk with Paige felt empty even with the tear (there were a lot of manipulative tears in this episode). And then there was the soapslapping with Mona.
That's where it all fell apart, in that church with her incumbent adversary. Though Alison’s apologies and vulnerability teetered between maybe valid and totally insincere, the conversation with Mona made everything that preceded it ring false. This is Pretty Little Liars, so you can’t be too sure if the threats Alison made—while a flustered Mona rationalized that she’s “all better now”—were bravado in order to scare Mona, or if they were purely a slip of the mask. Was she just puffing up to protect herself, or did her true colors shine through? I would say it’s a combination of the two with a heavy dose of the latter. But that means she’s also probably working the Liars into forgiveness, which makes her tangle in the sheets with Emily all that more deplorable.
Alison is not a sexually defined person. She seems eager to flirt and tease indiscriminately in order to save herself or to get ahead. Ezra, Shana, Ian, and countless others have suffered the consequences of lusting after that cherub face. I might even venture to say that, on the spectrum of sexuality, she might be asexual but knows she has enough going for her to manipulate people. She doesn’t seem to be driven by any sort of sexual appetite. The gender she wants to take home, or even if she wants to go home with anyone, isn't really important. I point it out only because sex seems to mean only one thing to her, and that’s getting her way. There’s no art to this war and there is no romance in her violence.
So, in the end, all the ‘shippers dreams met up in a living room to watch “breaking news” on the identity of the body that was actually dug up in the diLaurentis backyard, just to cap an already sudsy affair. #Haleb, #Ezria, #Emison, and #Spoby looked on as the police announced that the body belongs to Bethany Young, a teenage escapee from that secure bastion known as Radley. Arkham Asylum rears its head into our lives once again. Coincidence? Is anything?
And then Toby’s house exploded. And A came back. Oh, and Jenna’s in Rosewood. And Sydney’s cool with Mona and Jenna. And the Hastings are splitting up. It was almost too much for one episode.
This isn’t a guarantee that next week won’t be a breather episode and that we’re only going to get exciting installments full of chaos and explosions from here until the summer finale. But it seems like we’ve turned the corner on the season. The writers have unpacked all they want to unpack in dealing with Alison’s return in and of itself, and they're willing to complicate everything with A and Mona and possibly an evil Ali. If you were really digging these slower episodes with banter and dreams of hobbies, consider the gang walking through the flaming detritus of 47 Serenity Lane your post-apocalypse. Funnily enough, you didn’t even really get a funeral.
– Jenna’s back in town and Aria feels compelled to relieve her guilt by trying to make someone, anyone, who's been affected by Shana’s death feel a little bit better. The trouble is trying to determine whether Jenna actually cared about Shana, or if her sobbing in a corner when Aria walked right into the Cavanaugh home (because blind people don’t deserve privacy, I suppose) were for the Liar’s benefit. Sydney seems to be acting as a suitable replacement.
– Oh, by the way, Sydney’s cool with Jenna. And Jenna’s cool with Mona. We didn’t do an over-under on how soon it would be before Sydney turned out to be in with one of the clandestine cliques on this show, but I honestly didn’t think it would be this soon. To be fair, though, this is not the face of someone who just wants swimming advice.
– Gayrons. Alison called people gayrons, as in “gay morons.” Here’s the thing about Alison: She’s not really all that creative. She called Mona “Loser Mona.” I think that would be the most vexing part. At least put some thought into your insults. Don’t just smoosh words together or put “loser” in front of my name and think you’re being clever. Gah. No wonder people want to get rid of her. Choose a better bully. At least with Mona there are cupcakes.
– It’s interesting how the show overshadowed Papa Hastings, possibly killing Mrs. D with the effect: Mama Hastings leaving her husband. Which is completely justified since Papa Hastings insists on being super shady, but the more momentous occasion in Spencer’s life isn’t that a Rosewood male she’s close with could be a murderer, but that her parents are splitting up. In any case, it led to a sweet scene with Spencer and fellow divorce victim Hanna.
– This episode was a fine vintage for Hanna lines:
– Ashley: “I would be madder than a skunk …” Is that real phrase?
– I know we saw Bridget Wu once this series, but I feel like she’s PLL’s Tino. And she’s so gossipy.
– Hanna's hangover outfit.
– Aria's naked back for that sex scene? Saucy.
– Could the Liars not see the massive jump cut in Mona’s video between Ali’s ranting and the slap? That’s really Alison’s fault, though. Every violent sociopath knows that you don’t hit people where everyone can see the bruises.
– Aria: “Mona blue snarfed us?”
– Your Moment of A: The bitch is back, so to speak. I love how A moves using eco-boxes instead of cardboard. Very earth friendly. Although there was a lot of plastic wrap on that dollhouse. Were the movers not creeped out when they realized they were working for a creeper in a hood and gloves? Must be why they cleared out real quick.
What did you think of the 100th episode?
AIRED ON 7/19/2016
Season 7 : Episode 5
AIRS ON 8/2/2016
Season 7 : Episode 6